Haikan, Daikaya Group’s sleek Shaw standby for Sapporo-style noodles and small plates since 2016, is now home to a months-long pop-up celebrating cross-culinary connections between Mexico and Japan.
Chef/owner Katusya Fukushima’s newly remodeled menu at Haikan, now named Señor Fukushima through the summer, specializes in wafu (Japanese-style) Mexican dishes (805 V Street NW). The taco-centric takeover builds upon the success of the wafu menu full of Italian noodle dishes and deep-dish pizza at Daikaya’s Chinatown sibling Tonari.
Señor Fukushima fills a recent tortilla hole left behind on its 9:30 club-adjacent block when neon-lit fried chicken shack Roy Boys and its in-house Rita’s Tacos pop-up closed in December. Ramen fans need not fret, as Haikan’s popular noodle bowls still stick around on the new menu.
An aji fry taco riffs on a fried fish taco with sliced radish and scallions; chashu taco features the same slices of roasted pork found in Haikan’s ramen, folded into a taco with five-spice chili salsa and chicharrones; and a lengua taco braises beef tongue in a kelp-ginger stock. Small plates include ceviche featuring Japanese sweet potato and fried shishitos with cotija and katsuobushi (dried fish flakes). Soft shell crab, the seasonal local favorite now in full swing, comes with a Veracruz sauce of stewed tomatoes, olives and capers.
Haikan’s staple crab rangoon starter stays put, flecked with Old Bay and served with a jalapeño marmalade dipper. Weekends bring birria ramen to the table.
At the cement-tiled bar, Japanese ingredients like calpico, shichimi, and shochu mingle with Mexican ones like sotol, agave, and piloncillo (pure cane sugar). New cocktails include a Mexican martini, Piloncillo Old Fashioned, and Frozen Mangonada Shochu.
Agave additions include rare bottles Casa Dragones Reposado Mizunara — the first tequila rested in Japanese oak casks,
Señor Fukushima is a collaborative effort between Fukushima and Haikan chef Jose “Nino” Maldonado, who oversees the day-to-day kitchen and expressed interest in delving into Mexican cuisine.
“As it turns out, a ton of Japanese chefs are visiting Mexico and falling in love with Mexican cuisine,” says Fukushima.
The first wave of Japanese immigrants arrived in Mexico as early as the 1930s and owned and operated restaurants serving their community. In recent years, more chefs in Baja California and Oaxaca have started to embrace a minimalist, Japanese Mexican hybrid approach to cooking.
During his time at ThinkFoodGroup, Fukushima traveled to Mexico with José Andrés and Rubén García for two weeks to develop the Oyamel menu. Maldonado started his career as a dishwasher at Andrés’s pioneering Cafe Atlantico in Penn Quarter, where Fukushima was the head chef.
Señor Fukushima’s hours are Monday to Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 9:30 pm. and Thursday to Sunday starting at noon and until 10 p.m. on Thursday, 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.